As a new year unfolds, many of us as designers enjoy looking back at the past year and reflecting on the projects we’ve taken from sketches on paper to occupiable spaces our clients can enjoy. Reflecting on the past year’s projects, however, is more curious than in years past. How did projects we had started pre-COVID adapt to the ever-changing unknowns of the office landscape? How did we work with our project partners and clients to communicate, when we couldn’t sit next to them and work through solutions with pen on paper?

One project we at Visnick & Caulfield (VC) saw through this unparalleled time was AlphaSimplex in Boston. Daniela Maher led the team that completed the design and construction documents for this client along a timeline many of us in corporate interiors are familiar with. A drawing set is turned over to a general contractor for a permit, and while pricing is finalized and the schedule is nailed down, the project team prepares for the 12-14 weeks of construction administration to bring a project to life.
What was a typical timeline, however, was interrupted by the most a-typical intermission – a mid-March construction kick-off was paused amidst the city’s orders – and in a matter of days business-as-usual plunged into the unknowns we are now all too familiar with. While we shifted our own primary workspaces to our homes, we faced enormous unknowns for the future of the workplace and our clients’ projects.

In the case of AlphaSimplex, the two-month construction pause downtown allowed the design team to revisit the completed design and discuss what the future of work would be. It was encouraging to find that many design decisions at AlphaSimplex made pre-COVID would transition well into the new post-COVID world - allowing the company to welcome its team back when the time was right.

As people across the country return to the workplace from their residential offices, designers are finding that choice of seating and comfort are much more important, as are elements of biophilic design that nod to the status of wellness in the workplace. The quiet room at AlphaSimplex, which boasts a unique hidden entrance behind a seamless ocean-inspired graphic, offers choice and variety from a standard desk. Users will seek out areas of refuge and zones that offer calm – access to natural light and outdoor space, nautical oceanic elements that nod to the harbor scenery, and soothing finishes and tones welcome the office users back and transition them into the imminent post-COVID workpla


The entire project team contributed to elements and communication that made for a successful project, despite the tumultuous year it was designed and constructed in. Corderman & Company transitioned the weekly meetings smoothly to hybrid construction administration. This kept the team checked-in as Boston guidelines were changing and also allowed for the use of construction administration tools (and certainly some FaceTime!) to effectively complete the design once hammers started swinging again. The Office Resources Inc. team worked with VC and AlphaSimplex to provide furniture solutions that adapted to the changing landscape, including storage that doubled as movable barriers.


As we reflect on our past year, we are grateful to our team and partners who evolve, research, and react with us to create solutions that can lead us into whatever comes in the future. While much was unknown just months ago – and still many surprises may come in the year ahead – AlphaSimplex is an example of a project that met its goals despite a global pandemic, teaching us that we must continue to evolve and design no matter what we are up against.

Special thank you to our collaborators on this project:
Corderman & Company
McCall & Almy
WB Engineers
Office Resources Inc. 
Carr Properties